Did University of Mississippi Students Really ‘Riot’ over Election Results?

Two students were arrested in a disturbance at the University of Mississippi's campus in Oxford, Miss. last night following Obama's re-election.

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Two students were arrested in a disturbance at the University of Mississippi’s campus in Oxford, Miss. Tuesday night following Obama’s re-election.

Just before midnight, university police received notice of tweets indicating that a crowd was forming near the student union to protest election results, according to an Ole Miss press release. When officers arrived at the scene, they discovered 30 to 40 students in front of the union. Within 20 minutes, however, a group of more than 400 people formed and started chanting political slogans, prompting police to disband the gathering.

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Authorities also found 100 students assembled at a residence hall and ordered them to disperse, arresting one individual for public intoxication and another for failure to comply with police orders. No injuries or property damage occurred, according to the release.

Photos that appeared on social media showed students lighting Obama-Biden posters on fire, and individuals at the protest reported  that they heard racial slurs and taunting, according to NBC affiliate WMC-TV.

But in a statement, Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones denied the reports of what has been called a “riot” on campus:

While we are grateful that there were no injuries and there was no property damage, we are very disappointed in those students who took a very immature and uncivil approach to expressing their views about the election. The gathering seems to have been fueled by social media, and the conversation should have stayed there.

Unfortunately, early news reports quoted social media comments that were inaccurate. Too, some photographs published in social media portrayed events that police did not observe on campus. Nevertheless, the reports of uncivil language and shouted racial epithets appear to be accurate and are universally condemned by the university, student leaders and the vast majority of students who are more representative of our university creed.

A number of students supported Jones’ claim, including Nicholas Carr, who witnessed the disruption.

“I was there the whole time,” Carr told WMC-TV. “There was one sign lit on fire. For about 45 seconds. Mostly, it was hundreds of college kids who heard the word riot and ran to take pictures and see what it was about.”

Riot or not, several at Ole Miss shared their disappointment at their fellow students  via social media.

“I am so ashamed of my school right now,” one student tweeted. “Whether you are happy or not about tonight’s outcome, RESPECT every human. Ridiculous.”

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